June 1, 2009

WB justifies Rs 1,000cr relief demand from Centre

KOLKATA, 30 May 2009: The West Bengal government on Saturday said it was justified in seeking Rs 1,000 crore as aid to the state for the massive destruction caused by cyclone Aila. 

"Aila which hit the state on May 25 had left a massive trail of destruction. As many as 7.5 lakh houses were destroyed. Nearly 800 irrigation embankments needed to be repaired...The funds available with the state government were grossly inadequate to cope up with the situation," Finance minister Asim Dasgupta told reporters. 

The relief corpus lying with the state government was a mere Rs 210 crore, which would go up to Rs 450 crore after a fresh bout of contributions by the state and the Centre. However, this amount is not sufficient to provide relief to the victims, he said. 

The toll had climbed to 125 and the number of affected of families numbered 53,67,000, Dasgupta said, adding that the state government was providing relief material to the affected on a war-footing. As many as 327 medical teams were providing attention to victims. The government has provided 3,300 kg free rice to the affected, he said. 

"We are not asking for any dole. It is the duty of the Centre to provide the amount," Dasgupta said. 

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had on Thursday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, detailing the destruction in some districts and requested him to sanction Rs 1,000 crore to help the state in relief and restoration work. 

He also requested that a central team be sent to visit the affected areas.

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